Yet another slap in the face for eco-Gozo – Readers Letter

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Yet another slap in the face for eco-Gozo - Readers LetterI have just been made aware of the latest idea to come from the Gozo Ministry regarding the eco-Gozo concept. Apparently it has been decided that there are too many trees on Gozo so they are going to remove a few. Unfortunately for all the people who enjoy the Pjazza Independenza or It-Tokk area, those are the trees they have decided to get rid of. So what’s behind this decision? Well the official version is that the birds are messing on people’s cars. It’s a disgrace that this younger generation of birds has no respect whatsoever for people’s property. The unofficial version is that the Minister for Gozo is doing favours yet again by increasing the space available for market stalls and bar/cafe tables.

Now there are several problems regarding these trees the main one being that they are protected by their age and apparently the decision has been made to cut them down rather than transplant them elsewhere. I would say the reason for that is because if they tried to uproot them in order to transplant them it would entail digging around the area of the tree to a diameter 7 times the diameter of the tree trunk. That would basically destroy the entire site and if it took as long to put it back in order as it’s taking them to do St. George’s square the café’s and market traders would all be out of business.

This comes on the back of the approved re-development of the Victoria Bus Terminus which will see 24 ficus trees being transplanted on the site. Will these actually be transplanted or simply uprooted and dumped? Your guess is as good as mine but I’d probably opt for the latter myself. And what about all the trees removed on the road to San Lawrenz, Xaghra and Ta’ Pinu? Then there was the case of the ficus trees, which were destroyed on May 21st this year outside St. John’s Cathedral facing the Law Courts.

All these trees are protected by Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations (LN12 of 2001), which requires pruning only to take place under permit by MEPA or the Department of Agriculture, which was not the case at St. John’s. Were any steps taken against them? I’m sure not. So are MEPA going to approve this cutting down rather than pruning at It-Tokk and destroy yet another roosting site used by thousands of protected White Wagtails in the winter? Perhaps the idea is to prevent the birds from roosting at all so that the hunters have a few more targets to blast from the sky.

These trees have provided shade to people for many years. They are an important roosting site for wintering birds. Locals and tourists alike enjoy them. Every year I come to Gozo I always make my way back to the square around 5.30pm to listen to the birds settling down for the night. Just try and imagine the square without its trees. Yet another slap in the face for Eco-Gozo.

James A. Tyrrell
Northern Ireland

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    23 Responses

    1. Mario B says:

      Is this a Joke? We surely do need an answer ASAP from St Francis square ( Where the Gozo Ministry is).

      Those trees are a landmark and if they are lost photos of It Tokk have to be retaken because all my life I have known these trees.

      For once I hope that what you have written is a JOKE!

    2. James A. Tyrrell says:

      Perhaps the council will be good enough to issue a statement as to why they are taking this action, if they can think of a good enough reason.

    3. JOSEPH MIZZI says:


    4. Anthony Grech says:

      I believe that the Ministry of Gozo has nothing else to do at this moment. They want to get rid of the trees from Pjazza Independence.

      What a shame. After they do this stupid thing by removing those trees are they going to turn to some place else?

      Those trees were there of all these days. If the birds are messing on peoples cars, well then, they should park their cars at home. The Ministry of Gozo should go around and see what have to be done, like the fountain at St.Francis square. I believe that it should be fixed and cleaned.

      So, leave those trees where they are.

    5. Lesley Kreupl says:

      If the Ministry for Gozo really needs fire wood for the winter, why don’t they start chopping down some of the gum trees planted by the bird shooters and trappers on the hills of Gozo – these are exceptionally invasive and do not fit in with an ECO-Gozo concept at all.

      Please leave the trees at It-Tokk – they may not be ideal, but they are better than nothing and have survived for so many years. They looked so inviting yesterday morning after the rain, all fresh and green and a real breath of fresh air amidst the mostly derelict centre of Rabat.

      If the Ministry really wants to clean up the place it should take a look at the building next door to the Astra for a start, and continue up and down hill from there!

    6. Emri Mata says:

      If the bit of news so kindly regaled to us by Mr. Tyrrell all the way from Northern Ireland (funny how some foreigners seem to have nothing better to do than tell us what should and should not be done in our own country!) is indeed true, then HURRAH! and ABOUT TIME TOO!

      It should be amply clear that, to paraphrase the words of Our Lord, trees are (or should be) for people, not people for trees. Those trees have served no other purpose since they were planted than that of soiling people and people’s clothes and they should have been removed eons ago.

      However better late than never as the adage goes and a hearty WELL DONE to the Ministry for Gozo.

    7. Rose Abela says:

      The trees at Pjazza Independence are not the only trees that the Gozo Ministry is going to get rid of, there are other loveing fruit trees, that She is doing her best to let them be destroyed.

    8. John Proffitt-White says:

      It would be a great shame to lose yet more trees on the island especially for the reasons stated above (not been confirmed by the authorities).

      However the hunters could direct their guns on all the wild pigeons that rooost on house flat roofs and wreck them with their acid waste.

    9. Mario B says:

      @ Emri Mata We should be thankful o Mr Tyrrell for pointing us some info that even though I live close by I did not know about it

      Well if the council has not issued a statement or the ministry of Gozo than this means that Mr Tyrrell is right. It will certainly be a Disgrace to Mrs Debono for letting this to happen. Isn`t this what Eco Gozo should be about.

      How could you say HURRAH when you seem to support ECO Gozo.

      Mr Tyrrell keep on telling us what some locals are afraid to do all because they fear some sort of discrimination especially at work.

    10. James A. Tyrrell says:

      @Emri Mata. What is really funny is how some ‘foreigners’ seem to know more about what is going on in Gozo than some of the people living there. And what is even funnier than that is that some ‘foreigners’ seem to care a lot more as well.

      These trees give character to the square as well as providing an important roosting site for the White Wagtail. If the trees are removed where do you think the birds are going to roost?

      With regard to your putting words in the mouth of the Lord can I direct you to the following parable;

      “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.”

      – Matthew 13:31-32,

    11. Joseph Spiteri says:

      I live in Canada. The trees at it-Tok are some of the oldest trees in Victoria, as there are not too many trees to begin with. Those Trees are the centre point when you come to Rabat.

      Before they take these trees down maybe they should hang a couple of the Idiots who make these decsions. If the trees are deseased that is a different story. Leave the trees alone.

      Joseph spiteri. ps. I always tried to catch a bird from those trees with a pinch of salt, some 50 years ago.

    12. George Lanzon says:

      How could Gozo have too many trees. This is insane.

    13. Peter Cardona says:

      Shame on those people with power, enclude Mepa that destroy trees for development.

      It take years and years to cultivate trees specilly if these are fruit trees.

    14. Emri Mata says:

      Dear Mr. Tyrrell,
      The fact that the Good Lord narrated how the mustard seed flowers and grows in no ways justifies what the “resident” birds are being allowed to do to people, clothes, cars and what have you. As far as I (and, I can assure Mr. Tyrrell, a lot of other people as well, am concerned, he can freely come to Gozo and when he returns to Ireland take all the White Wagtails along with him! The only white thing that remains firmly in people’s minds regarding those birds is their excrement!

    15. Mario says:

      @ Emri Malta.

      So what you are saying that all the trees that there are in Victoria should be relocated because of their droppings. Come on and grow up.

      If we listen to all those people who complained of losing buisness because of bird droppings we should go in a desert so we can be safe .

      And by the way don’t you remember that when a dropping used to fall on us we used to be told to get a lottery ticket because we were lucky.

    16. James A. Tyrrell says:

      @Emri Mata. You know I have been coming to Gozo for years and have yet to be anointed by one of the birds in the square. I guess I’m just plain unlucky.

      You will be pleased to hear that the ficus tree is not a protected species. You will probably not be pleased to hear that all trees on Gozo which are over 50 years old are protected as per Schedule III of LN12/Trees and Woodlands (Protection) Regulations 2001. That includes the ones at It-Tokk.

      If the birds are causing a problem then there are ways of controlling that without resorting to cutting down the trees. If the underlying root system is causing a problem then there are ways of controlling that as well without cutting down the trees. It was done in the square in Qala and can also be done in Victoria

    17. Emri Mata says:

      Dear Mr. Tyrrell,
      Trying to be “funny”, “witty” or just plain “sarcastic” will not strengthen your argument! You may indeed come to Gozo … how often? … once or twice a year? … for how long? … a week or two each time round? … but local residents are ALWAYS here … maybe that’ is why you have yet to be “anointed” … you just simply have not been here long enough! If it were a LOCAL voicing his/her objection to the It-Tokk trees being cut down, I would profoundly respect that opinion … but I will NEVER accept a FOREIGNER telling us what we should or should not do IN OUR COUNTRY.

    18. Emri Mata says:

      Dear Mario,
      With all due respect to your view, all those people who complained of losing buisness because of bird droppings did so because what they are saying is a fact. What all this amounts to is really quite simple: who or what are we going to choose and give priority to: people or birds?

    19. James A. Tyrrell says:

      @Emri Mata. I didn’t see anything funny, witty or sarcastic about my comment to you. I simply stated the facts and pointed out that your situation regarding the birds could be dealt with in other ways as could the root problem.

      How often I come to Gozo or for how long I stay has no bearing on the argument. You accept my money when I do come so therefore you can accept my opinion and indeed my right to have such an opinion. If you don’t, tough.

    20. Emri Mata says:

      The point, dear James, is not that you leave your money here, but that you leave it VOLUNTARILY … you do so because you want to … nobody forces you … so, no, you cannot force any of the locals to accept your opinion on what should or should not be done in what for them is their homeland and for you is a foreign country … just because you CHOOSE to visit a country as a tourist and spend money there … what did you expect? … free food, lodging and services by any chance? … the crucial word is CHOOSE … implying a FREE act of will … in no way allows you to try to impose your views on the local residents … if you do not like what you see during a visit to a country, you simply vote with your feet … and, in your case, your wallet … and go somewhere else! You spend money during your visit to a country simply to pay for services rendered … not to interfere in local decisions! Hard to swallow? Pity!

    21. Mario says:

      @ Emri Mata I am a Gozitan and proud of it. Mr Tyrrell is right of what he had to say. You have not answered may main question which was:

      So what you are saying that all the trees that there are in Victoria should be relocated because of their droppings.

      If these trees get relocated because of this reason it will be a precedent for other places and put this into your mind PLS

    22. James A. Tyrrell says:

      Mario you seem to be flogging a dead horse in you attempt to get a sensible answer from this person as he talks a load of rubbish. He seems to think that he runs the island and that no one but him, or her is entitled to an opinion. Hopefully he is a businessman and will feel the pinch when tourists start taking his advice and voting with their wallets.

    23. J Spencer says:

      Hi to my beloved Gozo.

      What is going on, on this beautiful Island of Gozo.?
      Have you all gone mad in the sun?

      First I read that you have destroyed the fossil beds at Dwejra and now I read that you intend to cut down the trees on the Island!

      Where are your brains gone?

      Have they dried up and your heads full of water?

      For hundreds of years the birds have been nesting in your trees and suddenly you do not want them, WHY?

      If you are really clever you would hang “nets” under the trees to catch the droppings and then sell it to be used on the land.

      Surely there is another way out of this problem instead of persecuting the birds.

      J Spencer Bristol, England

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